I am beginning to truly understand the truth that we all have an innate, deep-seated need to be SEEN. God makes it clear throughout His Word that HE sees us--each and every single one of us. He says that He has counted the very hairs on my head, even!
Matthew 10:29-31, NLT: "
My God loves me so much that he has counted the very hairs on my head and He keeps track of all my sorrows, collecting my very tears in His bottle. And just in case we still wonder whether or not God SEES and loves us, He also sings over us with JOY:
Wow. Knowing how much God loves and SEES me is truly powerful. A game-changer. Comforting.
But. . . .
I still want to know that the people I am in contact with on a daily basis SEE me. Lord, please forgive me, but in spite of the fact that I KNOW YOU SEE me, I still need to know that others SEE me, too. I want to be noticed. I want to be affirmed. I want those around me to LOOK at ME--to SEE and KNOW the real ME. While I am truly scared for it to happen, I would love it if just one person would SEE my mask and know it for what it is. I need for someone--an earthly being--to stand with me and SEE me for who I really am--with and without the mask I wear, pretending to be someone I'm not, pretending to be "Peachie" when I'm not. . .Pretending.
If just one person would slow down long enough to LOOK at me, he/she would SEE the pain and sorrow that I struggle with on a daily, hour-by-hour basis. If just one person would slow down long enough to LOOK at me, he/she would SEE that I am silently screaming for attention, to be noticed.
One of my favorite tv shows is the original CSI [Las Vegas]. Early in the show's career, they did an episode where a guy is killed on an airplane which means that someone on the plane killed him. They discovered that several of the passengers had beaten up on the guy because he had gone crazy and was trying to open the door while in mid-flight. What they discovered, though, was that the reason the guy had gone so wacko was because he was sick. He was suffering. But no one noticed that he was sick. Not one person noticed that he was sweating bullets in spite of the air blowing right on him. No one noticed that he was shaky and incoherent--without having had anything alcoholic to drink. The CSI team deduced that if just ONE PERSON had LOOKED at this guy, really and truly LOOKED at him and had SEEN him, his life could have been saved.
I think of that episode a lot. It comes to my mind more often than I can even explain. If just ONE person had SEEN....
There is a poem by Stevie Smith called "Not Waving but Drowning." The poem is about a guy who has died because when everyone thought he was waving, he was, in truth, drowning, so no one helped him. Everyone is too far out or just not paying enough attention to notice that he was in trouble. If just ONE person had noticed, had looked, had SEEN....
When I see someone acting out--making a scene, my heart breaks because that person simply wants to be SEEN.
Remember when we were kids--or if you have kids, do you remember them....shouting, "Mom! Look! Look, Mom! Watch me! Mom! Look at me! Watch what I can do!" And there was nothing for it but to watch. To look. To SEE.
As we grow older and enter school, we are SEEN less and less. Our teachers have a classroom full of students--typically no fewer than 20 in any given classroom. When I was growing up, I remember there being no fewer than 30 in some of my classes. In college, the number was multiplied by at least 3 in many of my classes--especially my freshman classes. As students, we get lost in the sea of other students--all of us wanting to be SEEN.
As a teacher myself--I have been for just under 20 years, I can tell you that it is more than a challenge to ensure that each student is truly SEEN. No matter how hard I try, some students demand to be SEEN so much so that, in spite of my best efforts, the others are not. I want it to be different. I want each and every single student who sits in my class to be SEEN and to feel SEEN by me.
I have such a desperate need to be SEEN. I know I cannot be--that I am not--the only one who feels this way. I would like to throw out the crazy idea that even the shyest among us just want to be SEEN. The shy might not want to be pointed out, spoken to, or made to speak in class, but they do still want to be SEEN--and to be allowed to be SHY without being made to feel as if they are doing something wrong or that there is something wrong with them because they are shy.
When I am honest with myself, I have to admit that sometimes I do certain things just because I am so very desperate to be SEEN. I know that it is impossible to give equal attention to all. That is a simple, but difficult, truth of the reality of life. It is the way it is. But even knowing that truth, it still hurts when others within my sphere get more attention, are SEEN, more than I am. When our boss acknowledges his/her good work on a project...when the higher ups give kudos to the guy down the hall because he gave a presentation at a conference...when students in my class tell me how much they love another professor....when....and the list goes on and on.
In my deepest place of knowing, I realize that I am not "overlooked"--at least, not on purpose. Sometimes it is perception rather than truth that I am overlooked. I may have received accolades the week before and now it's someone else's turn. Or maybe the other person is given kudos because it is the first time that he/she has ever done anything above and beyond the norm. When I take a step back and look at the big picture, I can acknowledge that no one person is being shown favoritism. It is just my perception because in that moment, I am not being SEEN.
Most of us have heard or even quoted the saying that we should be kind to all because we never know what the other person is going through. Almost every single person I have ever met in my 46 years is dealing with some issue that is making life difficult. If you have been reading my blog for any length of time, you know that I have experienced child loss 3 separate times and that I have dealt with severe health issues for many years. Not to mention the lack of self-esteem, the depression, anxiety, marriage problems, and just plain wondering if life was even worth living. I have my good days. I have my bad days. And on my good days, they can become bad days in the blink of an eye when I am not SEEN--when someone says or does something insensitive. My heart can break and I can go from "Peachie" to "Help me, Lord! I'm slipping!" (Psalm 94:18, NLT) in 0.0 seconds flat.
There are two lessons that we can learn here:
1. truly SEE the people around you--LOOK at them--PAY ATTENTION to your loved ones and SEE beyond the masks, SEE beyond the pretence that all is just "fine";
2. accept that those around you are not perfect and that they are NOT your enemy--you are NOT being ignored or forgotten--others are so busy trying to be SEEN that they are not aware of the fact that you want to be SEEN, too. So give others the benefit of the doubt and treat them the way you want to be treated: